A five-member bench of the Supreme Court had on August 26, 2021 ruled that only the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) could take suo motu notice on his “discretion and shall do so if requested or recommended by a bench” of the apex court. The order had stated that “the chief justice of Pakistan is the sole authority by and through whom the said jurisdiction (suo motu) can be, and is to be, invoked/assumed”. “No bench may take any step or make any order (whether in any pending proceedings or otherwise) as would or could constitute exercise of the suo motu jurisdiction (such as, but not limited to, the issuance of any notice, making any enquiry or summoning any person or authority or any report unless and until the chief justice has invoked/assumed the said jurisdiction,” it added. A five-judge bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmad and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, also ruled that the August 20 order by another SC bench on a petition related to the harassment of journalists stood “recalled” and all filings stood “disposed of”. A two-member SC bench consisting of Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel had observed that since the application had raised matters of public importance with reference to the enforcement of fundamental rights, it met the criteria for invoking Article 184(3) of the Constitution under which suo motu is justified. However, acting CJP Bandial proceeded to constitute a larger five-judge bench on Saturday to provide clarity with regard to the invocation of the court’s suo motu jurisdiction. The new bench then put the August 20 order in abeyance on Monday and observed that its implementation may obscure and unsettle the practice of invoking suo motu jurisdiction. It also sought assistance from the stakeholders in determining the contours of exercising suo motu actions.